Posts Tagged ‘olmert’

A Picture is Worth Thousand Words

November 28, 2007

aa.jpgana1.jpg

look at the suits, the ties and the handshake…..

Advertisements

the knights

November 28, 2007

The following is a list of the heads of delegation  participating in the Annapolis Conference:

Description Delegation Title of Head of Delegation Name
Parties Israel Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas
Quartet United States President George W. Bush
EU Commission Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy Benita Ferrero-Waldner
EU High Rep High Representative for Common Foreign and Security Policy, Secretary General of the Council of the European Union Javier Solana
EU President (Portugal) Minister of State and of Foreign Affairs Luis Amado
Russia Minister for Foreign Affairs Sergey V. Lavrov
UNSYG Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
Quartet Representative Middle East Envoy Tony Blair
Arab League Follow-up Committee Algeria Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Mourad Medelci
Bahrain Minister of Foreign Affairs Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa
Egypt Minister of Foreign Affairs Ahmed Aboul Gheit
Jordan Minister of Foreign Affairs Salaheddin Al-Bashir
Lebanon Minister of Culture Tarek Mitri
Morocco Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Taieb Fassi Fihri
Qatar Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Ahmed bin Abdulla Al-Mahmoud
Saudi Arabia Minister of Foreign Affairs Saud Al-Faisal
Sudan Ambassador John Ukec
Syria Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Fayssal Mekdad
Tunisia Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdelwahab Abdallah
Yemen Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Expatriate Affairs Abu Bakr al-Qirbi
Arab League SYG Secretary General Amre Moussa
G-8, P-5 Canada Minister of Foreign Affairs Maxime Bernier
China Minister of Foreign Affairs Yang Jiechi
France Minister of Foreign and European Affairs Bernard Kouchner
Germany Minister of Foreign Affairs Frank-Walter Steinmeier
Italy Vice President of the Council of Ministers and Minister of Foreign Affairs Massimo D’Alema
Japan Special Envoy for the Middle East Tatsuo Arima
United Kingdom Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs David Miliband
Others AustriaBrazil Minister of Foreign AffairsMinister of State for External Relations Ursula PlassnikCelso Luiz Nunes Amorim
Denmark Minister for Foreign Affairs Per Stig Moeller
Greece Minister of Foreign Affairs Dora Bakoyannis
India Minister of Science and Technology and Earth Sciences Shri Kapil Sibal
Indonesia Minister of Foreign Affairs Noer Hassan Wirajuda
Malaysia Minister of Foreign Affairs Syed Hamid bin Syed Jaafar Albar
Mauritania Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation Mohamed Saleck Ould Mohamed Lemine
Mexico Under Secretary Lourdes Aranda
Netherlands Minister for European Affairs Frans Timmermans
Norway Minister of Foreign Affairs Jonas Gahr Store
OIC Secretary General Ekemelddin Ihsanoglu
Oman Minister Responsible for Foreign Affairs Yusuf bin Alawi bin Abdulla
Pakistan Foreign Secretary Riaz Mohammad Khan
Poland Minister of Foreign Affairs Radoslaw Sikorski
Senegal Senior Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Cheikh Tidiane Gadio
Slovenia Minister of Foreign Affairs Dimitrij Rupel
South Africa Minister of Foreign Affairs Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma
Spain Minister of Foreign Affairs Miguel Angel Moratinos
Sweden Minister of Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt
Turkey Minister of Foreign Affairs and Chief EU Negotiator Ali Babacan
United Arab Emirates Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdulla bin Zayed Al Nahayan
Vatican (Holy See) Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs, Special Envoy Pietro Parolin
Observers IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn
World Bank President Robert Zoellick

Annapolis Joint Understanding

By Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, read by President George W. Bush, November 27, 2007

PRESIDENT BUSH: The representatives of the government of the state of Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization, represented respective by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and President Mahmoud Abbas in his capacity as Chairman of the PLO Executive Committee and President of the Palestinian Authority, have convened in Annapolis, Maryland, under the auspices of President George W. Bush of the United States of America, and with the support of the participants of this international conference, having concluded the following joint understanding.We express our determination to bring an end to bloodshed, suffering and decades of conflict between our peoples; to usher in a new era of peace, based on freedom, security, justice, dignity, respect and mutual recognition; to propagate a culture of peace and nonviolence; to confront terrorism and incitement, whether committed by Palestinians or Israelis. In furtherance of the goal of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security, we agree to immediately launch good-faith bilateral negotiations in order to conclude a peace treaty, resolving all outstanding issues, including all core issues without exception, as specified in previous agreements.We agree to engage in vigorous, ongoing and continuous negotiations, and shall make every effort to conclude an agreement before the end of 2008. For this purpose, a steering committee, led jointly by the head of the delegation of each party, will meet continuously, as agreed. The steering committee will develop a joint work plan and establish and oversee the work of negotiations teams to address all issues, to be headed by one lead representative from each party. The first session of the steering committee will be held on 12 December 2007.President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert will continue to meet on a bi-weekly basis to follow up the negotiations in order to offer all necessary assistance for their advancement.The parties also commit to immediately implement their respective obligations under the performance-based road map to a permanent two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict, issued by the Quartet on 30 April 2003 — this is called the road map — and agree to form an American, Palestinian and Israeli mechanism, led by the United States, to follow up on the implementation of the road map.

The parties further commit to continue the implementation of the ongoing obligations of the road map until they reach a peace treaty. The United States will monitor and judge the fulfillment of the commitment of both sides of the road map. Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, implementation of the future peace treaty will be subject to the implementation of the road map, as judged by the United States.

Congratulations for your strong leadership. (Applause.)

The Palestinian people are blessed with many gifts and talents. They want the opportunity to use those gifts to better their own lives and build a better future for their children. They want the dignity that comes with sovereignty and independence. They want justice and equality under the rule of law. They want freedom from violence and fear.

The people of Israel have just aspirations, as well. They want their children to be able to ride a bus or to go to school without fear of suicide bombers. They want an end to rocket attacks and constant threats of assault. They want their nation to be recognized and welcomed in the region where they live.

Today, Palestinians and Israelis each understand that helping the other to realize their aspirations is key to realizing their own aspirations — and both require an independent, democratic, viable Palestinian state. Such a state will provide Palestinians with the chance to lead lives of freedom and purpose and dignity. Such a state will help provide the Israelis with something they have been seeking for generations: to live in peace with their neighbors.

Achieving this goal is not going to be easy — if it were easy, it would have happened a long time ago. To achieve freedom and peace, both Israelis and Palestinians will have to make tough choices. Both sides are sober about the work ahead, but having spent time with their leaders, they are ready to take on the tough issues. As Prime Minister Olmert recently put it, “We will avoid none of [the historic questions], we will not run from discussing any of them.” As President Abbas has said: “I believe that there is an opportunity not only for us but for the Israelis, too. We have a historic and important opportunity that we must benefit from.” It is with that spirit that we concluded — that they concluded this statement I just read.

Our purpose here in Annapolis is not to conclude an agreement. Rather, it is to launch negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians. For the rest of us, our job is to encourage the parties in this effort — and to give them the support they need to succeed.

In light of recent developments, some have suggested that now is not the right time to pursue peace. I disagree. I believe now is precisely the right time to begin these negotiations — for a number of reasons:

First, the time is right because Palestinians and Israelis have leaders who are determined to achieve peace. President Abbas seeks to fulfill his people’s aspirations for statehood, dignity and security. President Abbas understands that a Palestinian state will not be born of terror, and that terrorism is the enemy standing in the way of a state. He and Prime Minister Fayyad have both declared, without hesitation, that they are opposed to terrorism and committed to peace. They’re committed to turning these declarations into actions on the ground to combat terror.

The emergence of responsible Palestinian leaders has given Israeli leaders the confidence they need to reach out to the Palestinians in true partnership. Prime Minister Olmert has expressed his understanding of the suffering and indignities felt by the Palestinian people. He’s made clear that the security of Israel will be enhanced by the establishment of a responsible, democratic Palestinian state. With leaders of courage and conviction on both sides, now is the time to come together and seek the peace that both sides desire.

Second, the time is right because a battle is underway for the future of the Middle East — and we must not cede victory to the extremists. With their violent actions and contempt for human life, the extremists are seeking to impose a dark vision on the Palestinian people — a vision that feeds on hopelessness and despair to sow chaos in the Holy Land. If this vision prevails, the future of the region will be endless terror, endless war, and endless suffering.

Standing against this dark vision are President Abbas and his government. They are offering the Palestinian people an alternative vision for the future — a vision of peace, a homeland of their own, and a better life. If responsible Palestinian leaders can deliver on this vision, they will deal the forces of extremism a devastating blow. And when liberty takes root in the rocky soil of the West Bank and Gaza, it will inspire millions across the Middle East who want their societies built on freedom and peace and hope.

By contrast, if Palestinian reformers cannot deliver on this hopeful vision, then the forces of extremism and terror will be strengthened, a generation of Palestinians could be lost to the extremists, and the Middle East will grow in despair. We cannot allow this to happen. Now is the time to show Palestinians that their dream of a free and independent state can be achieved at the table of peace — and that the terror and violence preached by Palestinian extremists is the greatest obstacle to a Palestinian state.

Third, the time is right because the world understands the urgency of supporting these negotiations. We appreciate that representatives from so many governments and international institutions have come to join us here in Annapolis — especially the Arab world. We’re here because we recognize what is at stake. We are here because we each have a vital role to play in helping Palestinians forge the institutions of a free society. We’re here because we understand that the success of these efforts to achieve peace between Israelis and Palestinians will have an impact far beyond the Holy Land.

These are the reasons we’ve gathered here in Annapolis. And now we begin the difficult work of freedom and peace. The United States is proud to host this meeting — and we reaffirm the path to peace set out in the road map. Yet in the end, the outcome of the negotiations they launch here depends on the Israelis and Palestinians themselves. America will do everything in our power to support their quest for peace, but we cannot achieve it for them. The success of these efforts will require that all parties show patience and flexibility — and meet their responsibilities.

For these negotiations to succeed, the Palestinians must do their part. They must show the world they understand that while the borders of a Palestinian state are important, the nature of a Palestinian state is just as important. They must demonstrate that a Palestinian state will create opportunity for all its citizens, and govern justly, and dismantle the infrastructure of terror. They must show that a Palestinian state will accept its responsibility, and have the capability to be a source of stability and peace — for its own citizens, for the people of Israel, and for the whole region.

The Israelis must do their part. They must show the world that they are ready to begin — to bring an end to the occupation that began in 1967 through a negotiated settlement. This settlement will establish Palestine as a Palestinian homeland, just as Israel is a homeland for the Jewish people. Israel must demonstrate its support for the creation of a prosperous and successful Palestinian state by removing unauthorized outposts, ending settlement expansion, and finding other ways for the Palestinian Authority to exercise its responsibilities without compromising Israel’s security.

Arab states also have a vital role to play. Relaunching the Arab League initiative and the Arab League’s support for today’s conference are positive steps. All Arab states should show their strong support for the government of President Abbas — and provide needed assistance to the Palestinian Authority. Arab states should also reach out to Israel, work toward the normalization of relations, and demonstrate in both word and deed that they believe that Israel and its people have a permanent home in the Middle East. These are vital steps toward the comprehensive peace that we all seek.

Finally, the international community has important responsibilities. Prime Minister Fayyad is finalizing a plan to increase openness and transparency and accountability throughout Palestinian society — and he needs the resources and support from the international community. With strong backing from those gathered here, the Palestinian government can build the free institutions that will support a free Palestinian state.

The United States will help Palestinian leaders build these free institutions — and the United States will keep its commitment to the security of Israel as a Jewish state and homeland for the Jewish people.

The United States strongly feels that these efforts will yield the peace that we want — and that is why we will continue to support the Lebanese people. We believe democracy brings peace. And democracy in Lebanon is vital, as well, for the peace in the Middle East. Lebanese people are in the process of electing a president. That decision is for the Lebanese people to make — and they must be able to do so free from outside interference and intimidation. As they embark on this process, the people of Lebanon can know that the American people stand with them — and we look forward to the day when the people of Lebanon can enjoy the blessings of liberty without fear of violence or coercion.

The task begun here at Annapolis will be difficult. This is the beginning of the process, not the end of it — and no doubt a lot of work remains to be done. Yet the parties can approach this work with confidence. The time is right. The cause is just. And with hard effort, I know they can succeed.

President Abbas and Prime Minister Olmert, I pledge to devote my effort during my time as President to do all I can to help you achieve this ambitious goal. I give you my personal commitment to support your work with the resources and resolve of the American government. I believe a day is coming when freedom will yield the peace we desire. And the land that is holy to so many will see the light of peace.

The day is coming when Palestinians will enjoy the blessings that freedom brings — and all Israelis will enjoy the security they deserve. That day is coming. The day is coming when the terrorists and extremists who threaten the Israeli and Palestinian people will be marginalized and eventually defeated. And when that day comes, future generations will look to the work we began here at Annapolis. They will give thanks to the leaders who gathered on the banks of the Chesapeake for their vision, their wisdom and courage to choose a future of freedom and peace.

Thanks for coming. May God bless their work. (Applause.)

END 11:22 A.M. EST

NOTE: Bush uses word “occupation” referring to Israel’s control of Palestine…….no comment!

Iran: The uninvited guest at peace summit

November 28, 2007

By Kaveh L Afrasiabi

Tuesday’s Arab-Israeli peace summit in Annapolis, Maryland, is supposed to be about resolving long-standing Palestinian issues, the Golan Heights, and other contentious matters. But, increasingly, it is framed in the United States and Israeli media as a dual-purpose conference, the other being the containment of Iran.Thus, an editorial in the Jerusalem Post writes that “the process that Annapolis seeks to launch will be inherently conditional on Western success against the Iranian challenge … The idea that holding an Arab-Israeli peace summit would be a setback for Iran is a valid one.” The more liberal Ha’aretz went even further by stating the goal of the Annapolis conference to be the formation of a “global coalition against Iran”.

Similarly, in the US a number of pundits have painted Annapolis as a “means of sorts of cementing a coalition against Iran and its allies”, to paraphrase Tamar Cofman Wittes of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy. According to Cofman and a host of media pundits paraded on American television news programs, Annapolis is President George W Bush’s wakeup call to the world on the “Iran threat”.

It comes as little surprise, then, that the US military in Iraq has quickly pinned on “Iran-backed militias” the responsibility for the recent explosion at Baghdad’s pet market which killed more than a dozen people – call it pre-Annapolis fuel for “blaming Iran”.

Interestingly, a powerful Iraqi politician, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, head of the Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council, has questioned the US’s accusations against Iran, asking the US to “offer more proof” of Iran’s alleged role in inciting violence in Iraq. That is a fair request, particularly since both the US and Iran are now poised to hold their fourth round of direct, bilateral talks on Iraqi security. And, per the US military’s own admission, there has been a substantial reduction of violence in Baghdad and elsewhere in Iraq, suggesting a more cooperative role on Iran’s part.

Lest we forget, the Iraq Study Group report closely linked the fate of Iraq with the Arab-Israeli peace process and, in hindsight, a fruitless conference in Annapolis, that is, one that would be exploited by the US and Israel to deflect attention from the core issues by focusing on Iran, will likely have negative ramifications for Iraq’s security. That is, it will embolden the anti-US forces that are in the retreat mode as a result of the US’s “surge” policy.

In other words, a new surge in anti-US activities can be expected if the Annapolis summit fails to produce any tangible results – as predicted by Iran’s leaders as well as the leaders of the so-called “rejectionist camp”, including Hamas and the Islamic Jihad in Palestine, but not so Syria, which has opted for a high-level presence at Annapolis at the last minute.

According to the Jerusalem Post, “The more the US focuses on its unfolding confrontation with Iran, the more it is argued that weaning Syria away from the axis with Iran can be a very effective tool in waging that confrontation.” Syria has leveraged its spoiler role for Annapolis’ inclusion of the Golan Heights on its agenda. This in turn has prompted some Israeli politicians to consider prioritizing the “Syria track” over the “Palestine track” at the summit.

But, Israel and the US do not call all the shots at the conference and Syria in particular, which has participated in a number of summits and conferences in the past in pursuit of regaining its territories in Israel’s hands, can increase the diplomatic pressure on Israel in Annapolis. And so can other states of the Arab League, such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, that have made clear their unwillingness to go along with the Bush administration’s division of the Middle East into “moderate” versus “radical” camps.

The big question, then, is to what extent the Arab participants at Annapolis will be successful in repelling the US-Israeli map of action against “Iran-led extremism”, which has a clear nuclear dimension, aimed at taking advantage of the Arab world’s fears of an Iranian bomb? Another question is what kind of concessions does Israel have to make on the Arab front to make gains at the Iran front? Will Israel go as far as appeasing Syria, to wrest Damascus away from Tehran at his critical juncture in the Iran nuclear crisis?

Already counting on Syria’s participation as a mini-victory against Iran, Israel and the US are simultaneously aware of the possibility for a similar mini-victory for Iran in the event the conference does not yield any tangible results, and thus confirm Iran’s loud predictions of its failure. Intent on depriving Iran of that opportunity, the US and Israel will need more than a compliant media to sell the image of a successful conference; substantive progress on the Arab-Israeli plate must be demonstrated, otherwise the net result will be a publicity success for Iran and Hamas.

Iran’s calculations and counter-measures
According to a Tehran University political science professor, the reason Tehran is highly skeptical about the results of the Annapolis conference is that “all the principal participants are weak. You have a lame-duck president in the White House who completely forgot the Palestinian issue for seven years, a weak Israeli prime minister [Ehud Olmert] and an even weaker Palestinian leader [President Mahmoud Abbas], who does not lead more than a minority of Palestinians. How is a durable breakthrough possible under these conditions when the principal participants are not powerful enough to make the necessary concessions? Can Olmert stop the illegal settlements or order their removal from the Palestinian lands? The answer is no.”

Such sentiments can be found aplenty in Iran, prompting President Mahmud Ahmadinejad to echo the sentiment of Hamas leaders, who are highly critical of those Arab leaders participating at Annapolis, by stating: “Attending the conference shows a lack of political intelligence. The name of those who give concessions to the Zionist occupiers by attending will not be remembered for goodness.”

Iran’s Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, on the other hand, has stated, “The end result of all these conferences leads to a further erosion of Palestinian rights.” Mottaki has been touring the Gulf Cooperation Council states and has been delighted that Sultan Qabus of Oman in particular has praised the latest International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) report on Iran’s nuclear program as “successful” and has supported Iran’s nuclear rights.

As with Ahmadinejad’s participation in last week’s Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries summit in Saudi Arabia, the purpose of Mottaki’s diplomatic tour of the region is to provide a counter-reference to the efforts of the US and its European allies to depict Iran negatively, that is, as a nuclear weapons proliferator in breach of United Nations Security Council resolutions that is determined to dominate the region.

From Iran’s vantage point, the hidden agenda of the Annapolis summit is to cause a regional isolation of Iran and to escalate the pressures on it over the key nuclear issue, warranting certain policy adjustments on Tehran’s part, especially on the nuclear issue.

Annapolis summit and Iran’s nuclear crisis
Many Tehran political analysts are in agreement that if Tehran is not careful, the US and Israel will exploit the Annapolis summit to undermine Iran’s position in the ongoing nuclear standoff, by 
inflicting a public relations coup against Iran depicted as “extremist” and out of step with mainstream Middle East.

Any overt linkage of this summit with Iran has its own perils, potentially backfiring on the US and Israel, showing them to be not serious on the core Palestinian issues and, as Tehran has put it, pursuing “their own interests and objectives”. On the other hand, a soft linkage, whereby Syria’s pro-Iran proclivity can be chipped away and Iran’s international standing suffers, has its own dividends.

“Iran should follow the strategy of avoiding confrontation,” writes a Tehran analyst, Ibrahim Motaghi. After all, the latest IAEA report, despite its minor shortcomings, has been rightly viewed by Tehran as a timely plus, enhancing its hands in the nuclear negotiations and weakening those of the US. Yet, the Annapolis summit and the likely negative spins against Iran around it are aimed at eroding Iran’s nuclear gains and facilitating US-led coercive diplomacy at the UN and beyond.

But, one wonders if, indeed, this is a wise policy on the US’s part, which has been relatively blind to what another Tehran analyst, Elias Hazrati, has termed as “substantial reduction of radical and offensive positions in Iran’s foreign policy during the past few months”. In his “The road for compromise with Tehran is open”, Hazrati has, however, placed disproportionate blame, for lack of adequate progress in resolving the nuclear crisis, on the government of Ahmadinejad, without adequately taking into consideration the US’s schizophrenic, contradictory, approach that, as in the run-ups to the Annapolis summit, fuels the very Iranian radicalism that it purports to disfavor. This it does by falsely accusing Iran in Iraq and ignoring the impressive results of Iran-IAEA cooperation in a relatively short time.

“We are committed that the IAEA’s next report will be even more positive,” Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araghchi told the French paper Le Monde. According to Araghchi, Iran and France are now engaged in a “real discussion” over Lebanon, and Iran is prepared to take confidence-building steps on the nuclear issue.

Closing the ‘confidence gap’


“The work plan agreed by the secretariat and Iran in August, in which Iran has finally committed itself to address the outstanding issues relevant to its nuclear activities, is proceeding according to schedule,” IAEA’s director General, Mohamad ElBaradei informed the IAEA’s board of governors last week. Iranian officials, on the other hand, have revealed that the IAEA has formally closed its investigation of two lingering issues, that is, the history of P-1 and P-2 centrifuges, and uranium metals, in letters sent to Iran.
The problem, however, is that whereas ElBaradei has reported “good progress” on Iran-IAEA cooperation, this has not had any impact on the US-led road to tougher UN sanctions on Iran, except perhaps small speed bumps. China, which balked at participating at the last “Five plus One” meeting on Iran (the Security Council’s permanent members plus Germany) , is now under pressure to go along with tougher sanctions, as is Germany, which like China has much to lose in lucrative business with Iran as a result of a sanctions regime.

But, again, a major problem for the US’s Iran policy is none other than the IAEA itself, whose findings, of the absence of any military diversion, etc, serve Iran’s purpose of rallying the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), comprising the majority of UN member states, behind its cause, in light of the NAM’s resolution at the recent IAEA meeting that warned against the meddling influence of “certain governments” in the IAEA’s relations with Iran.

Iran’s ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, Hamid Reza Assefi, has aptly stated: “Initially the American were referring to ElBaradei’s reports, but now that ElBaradei and his team at the agency have had sufficient opportunity to do their own investigations, the Americans reject them and claim that this report is not acceptable.”

All eyes are now set on the upcoming meeting of the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Javier Solana, and Iran’s nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, scheduled in London on November 30. Solana has told the press that he has been given “complete authority” by the Five plus One to negotiate with Iran “regarding a long-term agreement”. That means the US, too, and, henceforth, it is important to see how the US’s delegation of authority to Solana will or will not intersect with its, and Israel’s, map of action with regard to Iran.

Certainly, the summit diplomacy of both the US and Israel with respect to Iran has the potential to digress substantially from the course of action presently contemplated by Solana, that is, the “dual suspension” of sanctions and Iran’s enrichment program. Lest we forget, the last time Solana and the Iranians met, the reaction of US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was to denigrate it as “unimportant”. Is the US willing to revise its traditional antipathy toward the Solana channel now? For now all the vital signs do not suggest a positive answer to this question.

“Jalili will propose new ideas to Solana,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson has announced and, for his part, Jalili has told a press conference in Tehran that “confidence-building is a two-way road”, calling on the UN Security Council to show a “positive reaction to ElBaradei’s report”.

As for the less than positive aspects of ElBaradei’s report, such as his criticism that Iran has been acting “reactively” rather than “proactively”, Iran’s envoy to the IAEA, Ali-Asghar Soltanieh, has effectively debunked this criticism by pointing out that per the IAEA-Iran workplan, “The nature of the ‘workplan’ is such that we should first receive the questions and then respond. This is not a negative way of thinking, but a practical method.”

With respect to El Baradei’s request from Iran to implement the intrusive Additional Protocol of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), [1] the head of Iran’s atomic energy organization, Gholamreza Aghzadeh, has called it “premature”. Iran halted its voluntary adoption of the Additional Protocol in reaction to the IAEA’s dispatch of Iran’s dossier to the UN, and the re-adoption of this protocol now serves as an ace in Iran’s nuclear diplomacy, particularly with respect to Europe, which is somewhat at odds with the US on the latter’s “zero-sum” insistence on the complete halt of Iran’s sensitive nuclear work.

By leaving the door for future compliance with the IAEA’s demand with respect to the Additional Protocol, Iran now has the unique chance of gaining on the issue of suspension, Suspension is legally problematic given the absence of treaty constraints warranting a long-term suspension of Iran’s nuclear fuel work under the articles of the NPT, particularly since the UN resolutions on Iran fail to specify the duration of the requested suspension.

Despite such egregious shortcomings of the UN resolutions, the US and France and Britain continue to refer to them and demand their full compliance by Iran as if they contain a comprehensive resolution of the substantive issues of the Iran nuclear crisis; the fact is they do not.

Only by resorting to bad-faith negotiations, misinterpreting the “suspensions” as “termination”, as Britain’s ambassador to the UN, John Sawers, has done, can this strategy possibly succeed. [2] Iranians are, however, too proud and politically savvy to fall into such a trap. Cognizant of the structural limits and constraints of the UN Security Council initiatives against them, the Iranians are more and more seriously pondering the pros and cons of Solana’s “dual suspension” proposal. This could be at minor variance with ElBaradei’s “double suspension” preceding it, simply by not scaling the two ramparts equally, ie, suspension of sanctions may become permanent after only a temporary suspension of Iran’s confidence-building suspension of uranium enrichment and reprocessing activities.

In conclusion, the potential for a successful resolution of the Iran nuclear crisis has now gained unprecedented momentum and erasing that momentum by a “peace conference” is also a distinct possibility that, hopefully, will be avoided by the triumph of reason and a peace mindset at the Annapolis summit.

Notes
1. Interestingly, in his oral report at the IAEA meeting, ElBaradei admitted that the report’s reference to his agency’s “diminishing” knowledge of Iran’s nuclear program due to the lack of implementation of Additional Protocol is not necessarily an Iran-specific problem but rather a more widespread problem with the numerous states that have yet to adopt this protocol: “However, as with all states that do not have an Additional Protocol in force, we are unable to provide credible assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities,” ElBaradei stated.
2. For more on this, see the author’s
Iran, nuclear challenges The Iranian Journal of International Affairs, Spring 2007.Kaveh L Afrasiabi, PhD, is the author of After Khomeini: New Directions in Iran’s Foreign Policy (Westview Press) and co-author of “Negotiating Iran’s Nuclear Populism”, Brown Journal of World Affairs, Volume XII, Issue 2, Summer 2005, with Mustafa Kibaroglu. He also wrote “Keeping Iran’s nuclear potential latent”, Harvard International Review, and is author of Iran’s Nuclear Program: Debating Facts Versus Fiction.

Hope or Scepticism ?

November 27, 2007

tough_peace_negotiations____by_benheine.jpg

                                      © 2007 – Ben Heine